The primary and secondary alcohols in cellulose reacted with acrylonitrile(AN) in the presence of strong alkalis to form cyanoethylated cellulose. The partially cyanoethylated cotton(CEC) fabric with AN in the presence of aqueous sodium hydroxide solution was described, including effects of treatment time and reagent concentrations. The weight increases of cotton fabric were shown to be linearly related to the treatment time, temperature and concentration of sodium hydroxide. The physical properties such as shrinkage ratio and tensile strength were proportional to the weight increases without significant impact on elongation. But the moisture regain decreased with decreasing hydrophilicity. The degree of substitution(DS) and transfer ratio were linearly related to the weight increases. In the CEC with increasing weight up to 24.9%, it has been obtained with DS up to 0.63-0.67 cyanoethyl groups per anhydroglucose and transferring ratio up to 87.7%. The color fastness to washing by sublimation transfer printing was improved by the cyanoethylation.